Monday, July 11, 2011

Make-Ahead Creamy Macaroni & Cheese

Homemade macaroni & cheese is a comfort food favorite.  After preparing and freezing, it's almost as easy as the store bought microwave version or boxed brand.  Give it a try!

You will need:  
  • 2 microwave-safe 8-inch square baking dishes for this recipe
  • 4 slices white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 cups shredded colby cheese
  • 2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
 Process topping:  Pulse bread, Parmesan, garlic and 2 Tbsp. butter in food processor until coarsely ground.  Divide crumb mixture between 2 zip-lock freezer bags and freeze.

Cook pasta:  Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot over high heat.  Add 1 Tbsp. salt and macaroni and cook until barely softened, about 3 minutes (important to avoid mushy blown-out macaroni).  Drain pasta, then spread out on rimmed baking sheet and let cool.

Make sauce:  Heat remaining butter, flour, mustard and cayenne (if using) in empty pot over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant; about 1 to 2 minutes.  Slowly whisk in broth and cream and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.  Off heat, whisk in colby, cheddar, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper until smooth.

Freeze:  Stir cooled pasta into sauce, breaking up any clumps until well combined.  Divide pasta mixture between two 8-inch square baking dishes.  Cool to room temperature.  Wrap dishes tightly with plastic, cover with foil, and freeze for up to 2 months.
I used foil to freeze them and then transferred to a micro-wave casserole since I didn't have two 8" baking dishes.

Bake:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Remove foil from casserole and reserve.  Microwave casserole until mixture is thawed and beginning to bubble around edges, 7 to 12 minutes, stirring and replacing plastic halfway through cooking.  Discard plastic and cover pan with reserved foil.  Bake 20 minutes, then remove foil and sprinkle with 1 bag frozen bread crumbs.  Continue to bake  until crumbs are golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes longer.  Let cool 10 minutes.

Make-Ahead Creamy Macaroni and Cheese


  1. This is very different than the standard BHG Mac and Cheese I make, sounds good:@)

  2. Yum this looks delish! and time saver for busy people...perfect.

  3. I could literally live on this mac 'n cheese recipe, Patti! I never ever tire of mac 'n cheese no matter how much it sticks to my rear end and middle! LOL! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Why bake it? Instead of topping prepared separately, make toast with the ingredients. Store separately. Put in freezer bags and boil until heated through. Top with topping when warm. Saves nuking it, and heating your over for 40 minutes, not to mention the extra dishes and foil.


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